<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Boaz Yakin. Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan.
In this been-there-there-done-that action movie you’ll get all the regular bang-bang beat-em-up stuff you expect from a Jason Statham movie. But feeling for the characters or the story is just as ‘tough’ as our hard-hitting hero.
Jason Statham has reached his comfort zone. You know what to expect when you sit down to watch one of his films. Sure there’s plenty of entertainment to be had from the Transporter series they repeat a million times on TV. The girls love Jason, his hard body, and tough-as-nails persona with just the right hint of sensitivity peeping through now and then. I like him too but not in this film.
As much as you could call Safe a mob/gang movie in some ways, you can’t call it great. It has some interesting elements: Chinese gangs, Russian gangs, police gangs. Yes, they’re all bad guys. And Jason’s character Luke Wright must fend them all off from capturing a cute little Chinese girl who’s like this human numbers machine the gangs want to use so they don’t leave a paper trail. Interesting concept but that quickly dissipates in to lots of mindless but amusingly choreographed action sequences.
James Hong as the Chinese gang boss is reliably menacing in a role he’s played and perfected. The rest of the cast are also suitably thuggish especially the special police task force set up by Mayor Tremello (Chris Sarandon). Needless to say that Jason must play his enemies against each other. That part is handled well. But really Jason, you need to find roles that make you look a bit different. Sure you could say why mess with it if it ain’t broken but you were just going through the motions in this film. Playing it ‘safe’ are you?
Safe has some cheeky one-liners, deft camera-work with angles from car’s rear-view mirrors and fight scenes that don’t give you a headache wondering what’s going on. I just didn’t feel anything for the characters or the hero. I think I was bored of Jason doing the same thing. At least with other action heroes of the past like Bruce, Arnie and Sly you had personality gushing out the bullet wounds mangled with some pretty snide and comic remarks from our ‘last action heroes’. Reinvent yourself Jason ol’ boy. We won’t give up on you yet.